Africa

South African group uses surfing to help for at-risk youth

Published 3:11 AM ET, Fri May 1, 2020
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Waves for Change is a South African organization that use surfing as a form of therapy for at-risk youth. Courtesy Tao Farren-Hefer/Waves For Change
A Waves for Change (W4C) participant, Lukhanyo Mjila, at Monwabisi Beach. "Each year, with the help of sponsors, we provide over 100 wetsuits and 60 boards that keep 250 kids per week in the water," says W4C founder, Tim Conibear. Hannah Maule Ffinche
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, visited Waves for Change in September 2019. Chris Jackson/Pool/Getty Images
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex met with W4C members and coaches during their visit to South Africa. Toby Melville/Reuters
The group began in 2012, and says it has since helped thousands of kids. Jo Munnik/CNN
Waves for Change says it strives to provide a safe environment for kids to engage in positive experiences that build confidence and trust. Jo Munnik/CNN
The mentors, like the ones who met are crucial to the Waves for Change mission. Chris Jackson/Pool/Getty Images
A key part of Waves for Change is building trust, which makes this a typical sight at a W4C site. Here, a W4C coach shares a wave with a participant. Charlie Shoemaker
Kids at Monwabisi Beach in Khayelitsha learn the surfing basics from local coaches. Charlie Shoemaker
Many of the mentors come from similar backgrounds to the children they are coaching, strengthening that bond. Courtesy Tao Farren-Hefer/Waves For Change
Surfing creates a perfect platform for mentoring. Apish Tshetsha (r) is a Waves for Change coach. All W4C coaches are local community members, trained to engage with kids referred into their programs for behavioral and emotional issues. Waves for Change
In 2018 alone, W4C reported reaching over 1,500 youth, ranging from 11-16 years old; of that group, nearly 40% were girls. Courtesy Tao Farren-Hefer/Waves For Change
Surf students and coaches warm up on the beach with a safe circle. W4C says safe circles encourage sharing and create a respectful culture. Waves for Change
"We start every Waves for Change surfing session with a 'safe circle'," says founder Tim Conibear. "This is effect of the safe circle!" Florian Bison